weekly blog--one for the ages
Now that the dust has settled on the U.S. presidential election, here is ConfrontingAging’s take on the top concerns facing seniors as we enter the new year:
Separately, thank you for visiting ConfrontingAging and reading the weekly blog. Our site has been averaging between 150 and 300 unique visitors each week since it was launched last January. Moving forward, ConfrontingAging’s mission remains the same: bring into focus the issues, concerns, and challenges of aging. If you know anyone that might be interested in receiving the weekly blog, please ask them to friend me (Richard Abrahams, Newton, Mass.) on Facebook.
One final thought to end the year and begin a new one: “A wise man adapts himself to circumstances as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it.” Chinese Proverb
In Newton, it’s not usual to have at least one psychologist or therapist in attendance at a large gathering. Our annual neighborhood holiday party was no different. The psychologist in our group told me about a relatively new therapy approach that was being used to empower older people struggling with memory loss, drug addiction, depression, loneliness and other mindful maladies associated with getting and being old.
How Narrative Therapy works: a client tells a therapist a story about an event that happened in the past. The client and therapist then review and discuss how things happened, why they happened, and work through challenges that the client may be facing in real life.
Experts in this emerging field say that storytelling effectively counteracts the initial denial that can arise when a patient learns of a new diagnosis or is asked to change deeply ingrained behaviors. Patients may react to this news by thinking it’s not directly related to them, or that their experience will be different.
Storytelling may have its greatest impact on patients who distrust the medical system, who have difficulty understanding or acting on health information, and who need help recognizing the importance of addressing chronic diseases, such as diabetes or high blood pressure that have few obvious or immediate symptoms.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had close encounters with two Lillian’s. The first one was with the centenarian that I’ve written about before who sits at my mother-in-law’s dinner table at the senior community in Connecticut.
Perky, upbeat and engaging as ever, Lillian came over to say hello while I was sitting at the newspaper table in the main lounge reading the Sunday New York Times. She grumbled about how awful the news had been lately, and then told me how pleased she was to have just sold one of her oil paintings. Afterward, she sat down beside me to read a section of the Times while waiting for the dining room to open for lunch.
My wife’s 82-year-old aunt was the second Lillian. She had just returned home from the hospital after experiencing an adverse reaction to a medication she was taking to treat cancer. Approximately 30 percent of hospital admissions of older adults are drug related, with more than 11 percent attributed to medication non-adherence, and 10-to-17 percent related to adverse drug events (ADEs).
Older adults who are discharged from the hospital that take more than five drugs are more likely to visit the emergency department and be re-hospitalized during the first six months after discharge. Experience from hundreds of healthcare organizations has shown that poor communication of medical information at critical transition points--admission, transfer, discharge--is responsible for as many as 50 percent of all medication errors, and up to 20 percent of ADEs.
Reducing the risk through Medication Reconciliation. Medication Reconciliation is the process of identifying the most accurate list of all medications a patient is taking--including name, dosage, frequency, and route--and using this list to provide correct medications for patients anywhere within the healthcare system.
According to the experts, no one has developed a fully scalable solution that pulls all of the required pieces together. However, technologies and processes are converging that will make this possible in the not too distant future.
Separately, are you interested in getting a taste of what it’s like to be old? Consider wearing an age simulation suit: http://www.age-simulation-suit.com.
Last Sunday, 60 Minutes profiled a small town in Colombia that is at the center of Alzheimer’s research. Here’s a shortened version of the story that was published a few years ago: http://www.everydayhealth.com/alzheimers/how-a-small-colombian-village-became-a-center-of-azheimers-research-5383.aspx